Sunday, January 15, 2012

Global Friction, Men/Women, Jew/Muslim: Incident - Anastasia Michaeli << link to You Tube video if you can't see the one above <<

Knesset Member Anastasia Michaeli threw a glass of water at Knesset Member Ghaleb Majadele four days ago. It made for a great news clip and gave us all a peek at the hidden world of Knesset committee discussions. There is one Knesset channel on TV, but as most houses of representative and senate video feeds go, you can imagine how interesting most speeches members give -- ENOUGH TO IMAGINE THE PAINT DRYING. All of Israel's political, social, financial and every other category of friction ends up on the Knesset floor (and committee hearings.) I would venture to expand this craziness to even international friction between the west and middle-east, free world and the Arab non-democracy and maybe even free markets and structured Arab ones. When it comes to the edge between two civilizations, Israel is IT! Here, in this little state, we are truly the seam between the west and middle-east. We have the friction between Jews and Muslims, men and women, secular and religious, probably all three drove Anastasia Michaeli to lash out that day.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

We Are Paying Too Much... NOT REALLY...

Israelis have started to complain that life here is too expensive. We get all kind of comparison articles with the high cost of life in Tel Aviv, even more expensive than New York, London and Paris. There are ground-roots protests on Facebook against buying cottage cheese from Tnuva and electricity from the electric company. If you pay attention to this daily buzz, and focus even further on internet social media (Facebook, Twitter and You Tube) you may think that Israelis are going to stop shopping any day now. Well, this is just one side of reality here. It is also an exaggeration because of media headlines and Twitter viral buzzing more than real life. True, some things are expensive and there are good reasons for it. Mostly it's a simple economic quirk of supply and demand (maybe economic quirk is not the right term, maybe market situation is more appropriate.) Israel has been having a chronic housing shortage for a decade now. This shortage is more prominent in the central region, and in Tel Aviv it is absolutely a chronic disaster. Land in desired locations is built up so much, the only solutions are either using small spaces left open (very expensive) or taking down an old building to put up a new one (very complicated.) This makes only high ticket apartments worth building. Builders and land owners only want to invest their time in high return projects. This way, even if a project is expensive and complicated the return is worth the investment. This trend, over a decade long, which shows up in real estate prices increasing to ridiculous levels. The government has been talking about solutions for years. Not much has changed and the


Friday, January 6, 2012

Credit Card Records Theft Hits Israeli 'Net Shoppers

A group of Saudi Arabian hackers broke into a small Israeli shopping site. Apparently 400,000 account details, credit card numbers, PINS and more disturbingly Israeli identity numbers (teudat zehut) were taken. The group threaten to publish the details on the Internet so others can use it to steal. It seems like Israelis are not concerned about the fact that Saudis did this, or that this might be an attack on the state. They are much more concerned about their own bank accounts and paying for pizzas delivered on a camel to a tent in the Saudi Arabian desert. (There was a cartoon in the paper showing a pizza camel delivery to a tent, the delivery boy calling out an Israeli name and the man in the tent saying "cool, thank you" in Arabic (shookrah). Yes, our jokes also make us think of Saudis as camel riding Arabs of the 1930's, we all need our stereotypes. )


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Orthodox Shock With Holocaust Image

The friction between orthodox and secular Jews concerning public street behavior has hit a new high yesterday. Orthodox Jews, feeling intruded upon and even humiliated by indecently dressed women, took to the streets. But they did it with flair and a symbol deeply disturbing to Israelis and Jews around the world. They used small children dressed as Holocaust death camp survivors straight out of a camp liberation photograph. One Israeli commentator says the images on newspaper front pages and TV news programs look disturbingly similar German soldiers' photos of Warsaw ghetto uprising captured children. Israelis take images of the Holocaust seriously, this is exactly why orthodox protesters use them. Except this time the tactic backfired.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

In the Eye of the Arab Spring Uprising Storm

Editor: I have been off doing personal and work related projects the last few months. Yet, life here in Tel Aviv has been swirling like always. Hopefully I will invest time to keep up with life here.

      The last few weeks seem to move faster than ever. Arabs states bordering Israel are looking for big changes. The availability of the Internet and mobile phones make it impossible to shut down reports from the Arab street. Arab countries are made up of a young population, many with experience and connection to report to the world. Even under Arab dictatorial rule, the population enjoys freedom to use the Internet and mobile networks. Even in poor countries, good mobile phones with cameras and video cameras are common enough to make it easy to video clips for hungry TV networks. Tel Avivians tend to have a wait and see attitude when it comes to changes in the Arab world. We have seen wars between countries, economic development and talks of more freedom to the common citizen. If giving people cell phones and video cameras is more freedom, than Israelis are not impressed. If it gets down to real political and economic freedom, than we have something to be impressed. Maybe even something to be interested about. If real economic and political freedom comes to Egypt and Tunisia, cooperation, trade and even political bridges can give us something to talk about.